"I grew up around food. My mom had a catering company back in the day, and being born in Puerto Rico, I think it's just like food is a love language for us," says Gio Diaz, co-owner of Uptown & Humboldt, which has a stall inside Zeppelin Station as well as a food truck that now has a regular schedule at the recently launched Full Tank Food Park on West Colfax Avenue.
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, Diaz moved to Denver nine years ago, but he never intended to enter the culinary scene or to lay down roots in the Mile High City. "I actually went to school for fashion. So, very different and fun, but still creative," he notes.
Then his plans took a turn. "Long story very, very short, I was intrigued about a food truck, and the person that previously owned this truck had a different concept, and I came in as his chef," Diaz explains. Then in 2019, "I thought I was going to move to Berlin. I went to Germany and started my visa paperwork. I was so stoked about my new chapter. So I went over there in February and was planning on moving there permanently in May. Then in March, I went to Salt Lake City and met Hayden."
That would be Hayden Hess, who grew up on a dairy farm in Utah. "I remember we met and he cooked me some pesto chicken — I don't really like pesto. Never liked pesto," Hess says. "Nowadays, I'm not even a huge chicken fan, but the pesto was amazing, and I was like, holy cow. Some could say it was love at first bite, you know."
After that meeting, Diaz decided not to pursue the move to Germany, and Hess soon made the move to Denver.
The Uptown & Humboldt food truck's first service was in January 2020. "It was a shit show," Diaz admits. "We were hella hyped, super excited, and then, uh, yeah, we shut down in March."
Instead, they pivoted and fell back on Diaz's prior experience launching a meal-prep business. "We started teaming up with breweries and distilleries to take the brunch experience to people's homes back in the day when you couldn't hang out with anybody. We were just hustling and grinding and expanding our food and our love for the craft behind it," explains Diaz.
The team's hustle and grinding paid off when they were invited to open a food stall in chef Troy Guard's Grange Hall in 2021. (Guard has since sold that business, which is now Cherry Creek Food Hall.) After a two-year stint in that location, the team received a new opportunity for a space in Zeppelin Station, which the business moved into in October.
Now, three years after its official launch, the Uptown & Humboldt truck is back, serving breakfast at the newly opened Full Tank Food Park. "Besides ensuring consistency, I think one of the more challenging things is getting the word out there that our food is amazing and having people come by and try it. It's a work in progress," notes Hess.
The breakfast menu that the truck is serving includes some heavy hitters. "My favorite is the chorizo chimichurri breakfast burrito," Diaz says. "It's different, and I think it's fucking savage. I know Denver is well known for burritos, and people take breakfast burritos seriously, but I feel that we have to give green chile a break. It's time for chimichurri. I love spending time in Argentina, and I've always wanted to learn to make this incredible chimichurri sauce in Argentina. I'm like, people need to know about this chimichurri."
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners, take note: "We don't upcharge for any alternative options. It's free of cost," Diaz adds.
The truck is also planning to launch a new program soon, dubbed Brunching Around the Globe. For a more expansive taste of Uptown & Humboldt's menu, visit it at Zeppelin Station.
The Uptown & Humboldt truck is typically on site at Full Tank Food Park, 4200 West Colfax Avenue, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, follow it on Instagram @uptownandhumboldt.